Blackmore's Night Finds Their Future Living Backwards In Time

by Jeb Wright

Jeb: First off, how did the idea come to leave hard rock and begin playing this style of music?

Ritchie: I have been listening to Renaissance music since 1973. It was just a natural progression and continuation after 20 years of listening to it to start playing it. After playing rock music for such a long time and seeing the way that the music industry has changed from when I first started playing music to the music they play now- Renaissance music excites me much more these days. It may sound simple, but there is a lot of complexity and rigidity to it which is something that I have never dealt with in music before so it presents a whole new challenge to me musically.

Jeb: When did you decide to make music together?

Ritchie: In 1995, when I reformed Rainbow and recorded Stranger In Us All -- Candice and I had been together since 1989 and I knew that she could sing. When we were in the studio with Rainbow she helped out a lot by coming up with lyrics for songs and singing background vocals. But even while we were recording Stranger In Us All, we were writing songs for our own pleasure. We never thought that we would record them- but they were later the songs that we put on Shadow of The Moon. Actually, Ariel from Stranger In Us All was a song that Candice and I had originally written together as a ballad. We may even re-record that the original way it was written at some point. When we started playing the songs we wrote together at one of our parties for our friends and a neighbour came up to me and said "I don't know much about the music that you recorded with Deep Purple or Rainbow, but if you 2 recorded this I would buy it"; that's when I started seriously thinking about recording the songs.

Jeb: What is the difference, emotionally on stage, between playing hard rock and playing Blackmore's Night music?

Ritchie: By playing this music, you feel much more vulnerable. You can't hide behind volume and distortion effects. Emotionally this music is much more challenging to play and I feel like I am learning something more every day.

Jeb: It appears you not only have embraced this style of music but you have embraced the timeless lifestyle of the music as well. How did this come about?

Ritchie: I have always been into the lifestyle of the Renaissance people. I read a lot of history circa 1500 and attend Renaissance Fairs regularly. Many of my friends are involved in various re-enactment groups of the Renaissance times. Whether they are minstrels or arrow makers.

Candice: I think that our whole life style tends to be based on simplicity and a basic love of nature and romantic images. We try to avoid things like computers, cell phones and the noise caused by modern day inventions. Your senses are totally bombarded all day and night. 1st it was just the phone, then the fax, cell phone, email, pagers, the list goes on and there was seemingly no escape from it. Well, we escaped into our music. We sit around bonfires with friends and play songs to the trees for the pure love of it. We get more pleasure out of watching a sunset or a shooting star or feeling the wind on our faces then we do from watching television and being dictated to by corporations as to what is in or out of fashion and what to think. I love the imagery of being the maiden waving the scarf from the castle tower, so we bring that into our daily lives.

Jeb: Once again, emotionally, how do you prepare to write this type of music? It must bring you both closer together in a spiritual sense to create music together.

Candice: It does because it is so emotionally soothing and empowering to be able to be one with someone musically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Like no one else in the whole world understands this need to escape the modern day pressures- but the person you share your life with. Except now we have discovered that we are not the only people who feel this way. So many people have joined us on this journey it is amazing! Ritchie and I are so in synch that making music together is like breathing. He comes up with such incredible melody lines that they actually tell you what they want to be about. Listen to any of his instrumentals and you will be swept away into another place and time and get a vision in your head. I just take that vision and transform it into words.

Jeb: Ritchie, this music is technically challenging. I mean a Fender cranked through a Marshall is a wonderful thing but what you are doing now requires a delicate touch and leaves no room for error!! Were there more challenges as a guitar player than you thought there would be as you changed your style?

Ritchie: Yes, as I said before, you can't hide behind volume and the structure of the songs makes it more difficult to play and to do solos on. It's not like a 12 bar blues where anything fits. You really have to be alert and pay attention.

Jeb: Please share the meaning behind the song "Renaissance Faire."

Ritchie: Renaissance Faire is basically the daily aspects of what goes on at these fairs that we enjoy going to. Lots of music, drinking, merriment and being outside on a summer’s day.

Candice: If you have ever gone to a Renaissance Faire you would notice that there are basically 3 types of people attending: Ones who live it whole heartedly, ones who are just curious, and ones who are bored and come just because they have nothing else to do.

Ritchie: The later are usually wearing shorts and baseball hats!

Candice: So, this song is about the time spent at the faire and how easy it is to be totally taken and transformed into that world. How the line between what is now and what was then becomes fuzzy and losing yourself to the magic of the time period. It is an invitation for everyone to do the same!

Jeb: What new music are you coming up with... basically fill us in on any new songs and the meanings behind them!

Candice: Ritchie and I have about 20 ideas for the next album. We're looking to go back into the studio in December and release the next album next year around the same time as our DVD. We don't want to release it too early because we just released our live CD "Past Times With Good Company" and it is a double CD. As far as the song titles or the messages behind them- if we told you now, it wouldn't be a surprise... and we love surprises!

Jeb: Do you two have a good story about Rabenstein Castle in Germany?

Candice: Rabenstein is one of our favourite castles. We did a portion of our latest video there- everyone dressed in garb and singing around the bonfire with the castle illuminated in the background. It is an amazing place and very haunted. Last time we went there, the owner, a friend of ours, was showing us photos that different people had taken at different times with different cameras that had ghosts in them. None of these people knew each other and the times they stayed at the castle didn't coincide. The next day, Ritchie and I went into the woods for a walk (the woods there are incredible! You feel as if you have entered the realm of the Hobbit!) And a friend of ours took a picture of us with the castle in the background. When we got home and got the photo developed, the picture has this white spiral that split at the end hovering right in front of us where as there was nothing there when we took the photo. We had it on our web site for a while as the ghost of Rabenstein picture. Very strange!

Jeb: Does your openness to talking and communicating to spirits scare people off? Are you convinced that there is life after death?

Ritchie: One can never be convinced of anything. It's really a case of the blind leading the blind when it comes to other realms and anyone who tells you they "know" or that they are an "expert" has no idea. One thing I can tell you that I don't believe in is giving money to organized religions. Everyone has his or her own path to follow. Too much blood has been shed in the name of religion so obviously that is not the right way to go. I do believe in life after death. Only weak and feeble minds that are afraid of confronting possibilities are scared off by these thoughts and ideas.

Classic Rock Revisited, 2002


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